Riding the Zamboni – Thursday, February 17th

Boston 6, NY Islanders 3

Amidst rampant trade rumors (which turned out to be blown out of proportion), the Bruins went out and showed everyone that they are perfectly capable of dominating a game with the roster they have. Boston scored three goals in the first 9:04 and never looked back en route to snapping their 3-game losing streak. Conversely, the loss snaps the Islanders season long 4 game winning streak. If you ignore the 1st period, they didn’t really play that bad.

NY Rangers 4, Los Angeles 3 (SO)

Headline writers had a field day as King Henrik beat the Kings for his 200th career win. Twice in the 3rd period, the Rangers scored the go-ahead goal only to see the Kings respond within 2 minutes with a goal of their own. The win is the Rangers second in a row, while the OT point gives the Kings points in 11 straight.

Detroit 6, Tampa Bay 2

In a game that was billed as “Stevie Y against his Old Team,” the old team showed that they’re doing just fine without him. The #2 seed in the Western Conference took the #2 seed from the Eastern Conference behind the woodshed and reminded them they’ve been there before. After the game, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, “This is the standard in the league. This is the best all-around team. We’ve got a ways to go to get to that level. We have two months to get there.”

I doubt he’ll get any arguments from his players.

Nashville 3, Vancouver 1

In a bit of role reversal, the Canucks saw opponents dropping like flies as Mike Fisher and Steve Sullivan were both hit in the face with a puck. Mix in Marcel Goc also leaving the game with an injury, and it was a rough night for the Predators.

But not all was bad in Nashville. Mike Fisher got his 1st goal as a Predator (and playing a good all-around game) and they were able to control the game against the NHL’s #1 team for the majority of the contest. On the plus side for Vancouver, no Canuck defensemen were injured while writing this post.

Edmonton 4, Montreal 1

What are the chances that the Montreal Canadiens were looking past this game towards this weekend’s Heritage Classic? Ales Hemsky scored the first goal of the game and added an empty-netter; which must have pleased Edmonton’s management if they’re looking to trade him before the deadline. But the best news of the night had nothing to do with hockey at all: James Wisniewski (after taking a puck off the face), “only” suffered a broken cheekbone and did not suffer a serious eye injury.

Phoenix 4, Atlanta 3

Another game, another win for the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes were able to comeback from a 3-2 deficit to earn the victory and jump to 1st place in the ever changing Pacific Division. Unfortunately for fans in Atlanta, the loss by the Thrashers was just more of the same. The loss drops the Thrashers to 3-9-4 in their last 16 games and finds them in the 10th spot in the East.

San Jose 3, Washington 2

Back-to-back games on an East Coast swing proved to be a little too much for the struggling Caps as they dropped their fourth game in their last five. Then again, they’ve now lost 11 straight at the Shark Tank–so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.

While the Caps have been struggling against Pacific Division opponents as of late, the Sharks have been riding a hot streak 11-2-1 in their last 14.

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    Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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    He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

    The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

    From the AHL:

    With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

    Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

    Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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    The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

    And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

    With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

    Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

    Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

    “Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

    The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

    Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

    What is wrong with the Sharks?

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    Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

    On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

    The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

    San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

    At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

    Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

    “When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

    This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

    The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

    Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

    The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

    Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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    Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

    It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

    The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

    Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

    The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

    However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.